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noses to make themselves objects of horror. The plan would no doubt be very effective if it was adopted, and the legend proceeds to say that the infuriated Danes burnt down the nunnery.
It is stated in Dugdale, that “from this time till 1098 Coldingham lay deserted, when Edgar, King of Scotland, founded upon its site a Priory of Benedictines, which he bestowed upon the monks of Durham, with all lands, waters, wrecks," &c. But it is natural to suppose, notwithstanding the legends which represent the earlier house to have been inhabited both by monks and nuns, that the Priory of Coldingham was a totally distinct foundation from the small nunnery of St Abb's a few miles distant. The building was burnt by King John in 1216, and it is to a date shortly subsequent to this disaster, when it appears to have been rebuilt, that the present remains are to be attributed. When the ecclesiastical separation of Scotland from England was completed, this house came under the diocesan authority of the Bishop of St Andrews, and the superiority of the Abbey of Dunfermline. It is only once, however, casually mentioned in reference to the year 1512, as a dependancy of that house in its chartulary. Edward III. was a patron and benefactor of Coldingham. It was afterwards gifted by the Kings of Scotland, from time to time, with great revenues from ecclesiastical sources; and the many churches the temporalities of which it obtained, scattered about in the fruitful holms of Berwick—such as Ayton, Old Cambus, Swinton, Lamberton, Mordington, and many others which it would be tedious to commemorate—attest its power and riches. Vestiges of many of these subsidiary edifices remain, and a pilgrimage among them might repay the labours of the antiquary. In one of them, Lamberton, took place that marriage of James IV. with the daughter of Henry VII., which led to the union of the crowns.
The history of Coldingham Priory has itself been somewhat eventful and turbulent. It is of frequent mention in Border and even national history, but only a general allusion to the events connected with it can here be afforded. Its riches were the cause of that civil war which cost James III. his life. The three great southern families, the Douglases, Homes, and Hepburns, had established themselves in a sort of joint possession of the priorship and other lucrative offices of the house, while James proposed to annex the revenues to his new royal chapel of Stirling, where he desired to keep up a choir of vocal and instrumental musicians. The civil conflict thus commenced, and its disastrous consequences in the defeat and murder of the King, are well known.
In 1554, the English invaders under Hertford occupied the abbey as a fortification, from which all the efforts of the Regent's army could not dislodge them. It was left in so dilapidated a state that the English were supposed to have set it on fire when they abandoned it. When appropriated at the Reformation, it had the fortune to fall by marriage and descent to that Earl of Bothwell who kept James VI. in ceaseless personal terror, and excited so many ludicrous turmoils. When Oliver Cromwell's army invaded Scotland, some of the Cavaliers fortified the tower of Coldingham, and so enraged him with a pertinacious defence, that, after he had driven them out by a lengthened cannonading, he blew up a large part of the building.
The tower, ninety feet high, though in a tottering condition and quite unfit for further warlike uses, stood for upwards of a century afterwards. The author of the Statistical Account, writing in 1834, says, “It continued in a very precarious state, till it fell about sixty years ago, and not a stone of it now remains.” Grose, writing in 1789, and referring apparently to the same tower, says, “ Some years ago, in taking down a tower at the south-west corner of the building, a skeleton of a woman was found, who, from several circumstances, appeared to have been immured. She had her shoes on, which were long preserved in the custody of the minister.”
NEARLY every stranger visiting Edinburgh, as well as every inhabitant of the town, must have seen this old fortified mansion, if not on a near approach and inspection, at least in observing how its brown ruins dignify the summit of a long slope of wooded eminence rising out of the great valley between Arthur Seat and the Pentland Hills. It may be a disputed matter whether a castellated edifice is seen to greatest advantage starting straight from the edge of a precipice, or forming in itself the only abrupt elevation, and crowning, like Craigmillar, a gentle but dignified ascent. There can be little doubt that if in the former instance the united effect of edifice and rock appears more grand,—viewing the building alone, the latter is more calculated to raise its dignity, since the elevation is not in itself an object calculated to excite awe, save in as far as it ministers to the majesty of the edifice which it lifts above the plain. The hill on which this castle stands is profusely planted with young wood, but in the immediate vicinity of the ruin, the “ old ancestral trees,” that have surrounded it for centuries, alone remain. There is, perhaps, no other instance in Scotland of a family mansion so systematically built on the principles of fortification in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the centre stands the donjon or square keep of the earlier age of baronial architecture. Instead of' a varied cluster of buildings being from time to time erected under its shadow, it has been surrounded by a regular external wall, enclosing a square area of considerable extent. The wall is high and strong, with round towers at the corners, intended, like bastions in modern fortification, for the protection of the intervening curtains. Such is the general plan of the edifice as it may be seen at a distance. On a close examination no portion of the ruin bears the air of very remote antiquity, but the whole has the appearance of being raised in that age of strife and blood, when the Scottish barons had felt the influence of improved commerce and agriculture in increasing their wealth, but had not lost the smallest fragment of their ancient pride and ferocity. The square tower is so far preserved that one can mount on the top, whence may be seen a large portion of the most richly cultivated and not the least picturesque district of Scotland. The hall in some respects resembles that of Borthwick; but as Sir Walter Scott has justly remarked, it is inferior in dignity. In several portions of the vaulting there may be traced the remains of old paintings, chiefly of an heraldic character, a feature which it enjoys in common with Borthwick. On the lower part of the side there are some paintings much more distinct, which are evidently, however, modern attempts. Within the keep, a room of peculiarly small dimensions is shewn as Queen Mary's apartment, and whoever enters it is tempted to make the remark that the tall Darnley could certainly have enjoyed little of her society in such a bower. It is a circumstance not easily explained, that in the castles which have been frequented by that princess, the very smallest room is usually pointed out as that which was appropriated to her. In another room, still kept in a habitable state, are shewn some pieces of armour, stated to have belonged to Darnley and other historical characters, an assurance which the visitor may believe or not as he thinks fit. There are several gloomy
CRAIGMILLAR CASTLE, 1-4.
dungeons, in one of which there is a partial opening in the ground. Here it is said that a skeleton was taken out—a species of reminiscence which few old castles are, or ought to be, without. In the neighbourhood of the dungeons a stone lintel deeply worn by the rubbing of some piece of metal, such as one may frequently observe at the side of some cottage door, is to be shewn; and the guide, if he knows his trade, will say it has been worn by the sharpening of the headsman's axe—an awful instance of the wholesale slaughter of feudal times—for which the doubting visitor is apt to substitute a theory of the cook sharpening his carving-knife. The number of stairs ascended and descended—the several battlements—the long passages—the multitude of rooms of various character and dimensions—impress the visitor with an idea of the great size of the original edifice. Besides the keep and the older towers, there is within the walls a structure of comparatively modern appearance, and probably built towards the conclusion of the seventeenth century. There are also the dilapidated remains of a chapel, which a small niche and some other fragments shew to have been once decorated with Gothic work. There is very little ornament of any description attached to the edifice of the castle itself. “On the boundary wall,” says Sir Walter Scott,“ may be seen the arms of Cockburn of Ormiston, Congalton of Congalton, Moubray of Barnbougle, and Otterburn of Redford, allies of the Prestons of Craigmillar. In one corner of the court, over a portal arch, are the arms of the family, three unicorns head-couped, with a cheese press, and barrel or tun-a wretched rebus to express their name of Preston."* This sculptured fragment (which bears the date 1510 above the shield) is represented in the foreground of our internal view of the Keep Tower.
• Prose Works, vii. 365.
The name of a “ Henry de Craigmillar” appears as a benefactor of the Church in the year 1212. The nearer we come to the time of the War of Independence in Scotland, the more generally do we find the lands of the south in the possession of those Norman families which disappeared during the later periods of Scottish history, and gave place to names of Scoto-Saxon origin. Thus in 1374, the lands of Craigmillar passed from the hands of John de Capella, into those of Sir Simon Preston.* The head of this family is frequently mentioned as Provost of Edinburgh, and on 22nd January, 1565, Sir Simon Preston was appointed Lord Justice General, an office which he seems only to have held for a brief period.t
In 1479, Craigmillar became connected with a mysterious state tragedy. The Duke of Albany was charged with conspiring against the life of his brother, James III. but made his escape. The younger brother, John Earl of Mar, lay under the same charge, and was imprisoned in the fortress of Craigmillar. James III. as it is well known, did not shew the qualities which were considered the characteristics of a true king in that age. He was partial to music, architecture and study. “He was ane man that loved solitariness, and desired never to hear of warre." His brother Mar, on the other hand, was ane fair lustie man, of ane great and well-proportioned stature, weill faced, and comlie in all his behaviouris, who knew nothing but nobilitie. He used meikle hunting and hawking, with other gentlemanie exercise, and delighted also in entertaining of great and stout horse and mares, that their ofspring myght flourish, so that he might be served thairwith in tyme of warres.” It is a debated matter whether his brothers were really guilty of conspiracy against the king's life, or some wily courtiers excited in the timid solitary's mind a suspicion that the hardy youth, popular, manly, handsome, and partial to the national sports, aimed at possessing the crown, which the people considered him better fitted to wear than its legitimate owner. Whether he was guilty or not, Mar never left his captivity alive. The chroniclers say that, having been allowed to choose his own death, he preferred that of Petronius and Seneca, and had his veins opened in a bath. Drummond of Hawthornden, however, says, the unfortunate prince was seized by fever and delirium in Craigmillar, and that he was thence removed to the Canongate to be placed under the king's physician, in whose hands he died, either from too profuse phlebotomy, or his having, in a fit of delirium, torn off the bandages.
Craigmillar was one of the fortresses which suffered in Hertford's invasion of Scotland. contemporary chronicler says the English army "past to Craigmillar, quhilk was haistilie given to thame, promesand to keip the samyne without skaith : quhilk promes thai break, and brunt and destroyit the said hous.” The outer wall bears the date of 1427, but it is probable that the greater part of the inner edifice may have been built since these ravages of the English.
The most interesting associations connected with old buildings in the south of Scotland almost invariably attach themselves to the history of Queen Mary. How Craigmillar had become a
§ Ib. 178.
* Grose, i. 50.
# Pitscottie, 177.
Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 32.
royal residence does not distinctly appear. James V. frequently lived there, and Mary seems to have made it her chief country retreat. Some months after the murder of Rizzio, and when the keen-eyed statesmen of the day were watching the estrangement of Mary and Darnley with anxious interest, we find Le Croc the French Ambassador thus writing to the Archbishop of Glasgow (2nd December, 1566), “ The Queen is for the present at Craigmillar, about a league distant from this city. She is in the hands of the physicians, and I do assure you is not at all well, and do believe the principal part of her disease to consist in a deep grief and sorrow. Nor does it seem possible to make her forget the same. Still she repeats these words, I could wish to be dead. You know very well that the injury she has received is exceeding great, and her Majesty will never forget it.
To speak my mind freely to you, but I beg you not to disclose what I say in any place that may turn to my prejudice, I do not expect upon several accounts any good understanding between them, unless God effectually put to his hand.”*
Some secondary accidents only seem to have prevented this fortress from being stained with the blood of Darnley. It appears that when he returned from Glasgow in the beginning of 1567, the first design, instead of lodging him in the Kirk of Field, was to convey him to Craigmillar, where it was supposed that his recovery from disease might be aided by the sanatory appliance of the bath-an ominous proposal to a prince who might remember what tradition stated to have happened ninety years earlier within the same walls. After this arrangement had been suggested to him by the Queen, who, whether herself guilty or not, was undoubtedly then the instrument of planning his last journey, we are told that, “when Mary left him, Darnley called Crawfurd to him, and informing him fully of all that had passed at the interview, bade him communicate it to his father, the Earl of Lennox. He then asked him what he thought of the Queen's taking him to Craigmillar? "She treats your Majesty,' says Crawfurd, “too like a prisoner—why should you not be taken to one of your own houses in Edinburgh?' 'It struck me much the same way,' answered Darnley, ' and I have fears enough ; but may God judge between us: I have her promise only to trust to; but I have put myself in her hands, and I will go with her though she should murder me.'”+
At some period of the seventeenth century Craigmillar passed into the possession of the family of Gilmour, in which it still remains. The most remarkable member of this family was Sir John Gilmour, Lord President of the Court of Session, the son of a writer to the signet. He was an advocate during the period of the Protectorate, and owing his fortunes apparently more to ability than professional or historical learning, he elicited from his fellow-lawyer, Sir George Mackenzie, the antithetical compliment of being “sine rhetoricâ eloquens—sine literis doctus.” At the Restoration he was appointed President of the Court of Session, and he died in 1671, leaving behind him a collection of Reports still well known in connection with his name.
Keith's Hist. xcvi. Spottiswoode Edition.
† Tytler's History, vii. 78.9.